As a child, Laura Alonso lived under the military junta that terrorized the Argentine people for seven years. When democracy returned to Argentina in 1983, she joined her fellow countrymen in celebration. Today, she is one of Latin America’s most prominent activists for open, accountable government.
After graduating from college, Laura began working in Argentine politics—first for a political party, then for a local public administration. But she was dismayed to discover the corruption that flourished in Argentina’s government, facilitated by a lack of transparency. So Laura decided to serve her country in a different way. After studying government at the London School of Economics, she returned to Argentina and joined the staff of Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power), a government watchdog organization. Today, Laura is the executive director.
Poder Ciudadano promotes open government through a broad range of programs. Its members monitor judicial corruption, elections, and government influence over the media. They investigate how the government assigns lucrative public works contracts. They educate citizens about their rights and organize voter registration drives. And they make all of their research and reporting available to the general population.
Laura’s activism isn’t contained to Argentina. Through her partnership with Transparency International, Laura trains NGOs throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia in how to safely and effectively monitor governments.
Fighting political corruption is a risky endeavor; activists and journalists who expose corruption often become targets of violence. But Laura believes that corruption is a profound threat to peace and justice. “It is a violation of human rights when public resources destined to improve the social conditions of the general population end up in private accounts,” she says. “If development is the path to justice, we must work to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and good governance.”